Vaccination advisory group recommends Covishield second dose eight weeks after first

Government has to take the final call, says National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation

March 20, 2022 06:24 pm | Updated March 21, 2022 08:47 am IST - NEW DELHI

A vial of Covishield vaccine and disposable syringes are seen placed on a table during a vaccination drive. File

A vial of Covishield vaccine and disposable syringes are seen placed on a table during a vaccination drive. File | Photo Credit: AFP

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) has recommended that second dose of Covishield can be administered from 8 to 16 weeks after first dose. Currently the second dose is being given 12-16 weeks after the first dose.

Confirming the recommendation a senior health official said that the decision to reduce the time-span between the two doses will lead to accelerated administration of the second shot of dose of Covishield to the remaining six to seven crore individuals.

“The latest recommendation of NTAGI is based on recent global scientific evidence derived from programmatic data. Also when the second dose of Covishield is given eight weeks onwards, the antibody response generated is almost similar when administered at an interval of 12 to 16 weeks,” he said.

The Central Government had on 13 May 2021 extended the gap between the first and second doses of the Covishield vaccine from six to eight weeks to 12-16 weeks, based on the recommendations by NTAGI.

“This is a recommendation by NTAGI and the final decision has to be taken by the Government,” added an official.

The advisory group has not yet suggested any change in the schedule of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, whose second dose is administered 28 days after the first dose.

Covishield  is a recombinant, replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus vector encoding the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) glycoprotein. Following administration, the genetic material of part of corona virus is expressed which stimulates an immune response. It consists of two doses of 0.5 ml each and there is no difference between the 1st and 2nd dose. Each dose has the same content of viral particles.

Responding to question about the much debated advantage of a fourth dose following a booster Dr. Rajeev Jayadevan, vice chairman, Research Cell, Indian Medical Association, Kerala, said that the short answer would be no.

``Studies have indicated that COVID re-infections cannot be solved by simply adding more and more systemic doses of vaccine. It is obvious that if sufficient aerosol exposure occurs, infection can occur - regardless of number of doses received. Masks - especially indoors - will reduce this risk. We don’t have an effective mucosal vaccine yet. That’s also why basic public health measures continue to be important,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, India on Sunday recorded 1,761 fresh coronavirus infections, the lowest in around 688 days, taking the country’s tally to 4,30,07,841, while the active cases declined further to 26,240, according to  Health Ministry data. The death toll climbed to 5,16,479 with 127 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated. ``The active cases comprise 0.06 per cent of the total infections. The national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.74 per cent,’’ added the release.

It added that a reduction of 1,562 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. The daily positivity rate and the weekly positivity rate stood at 0.41 per cent. The last 24 hours saw a total of 4,31,973 COVID-19 tests being conducted. India has so far conducted over 78.26 crore tests. While the number of people who have recovered surged to 4,24,65,122 the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.20 per cent, it added.

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